As a coach, you’d think most of the questions I’m asked would relate to exercise; however, questions relating to food and nutrition have always outnumbered any inquiry to movement.  Typically, the questions begin when a member makes the connection between nutrition and performance. It doesn’t take long for members to notice what they eat (or don’t eat) has a dramatic effect on their workouts. Members also start to see results and begin to look for ways to keep the changes coming—once you’ve added regular exercise to your life the next logical step is eating better.

My nutritional journey has been one of personal experimentation. “Back in the day” when triathlon was my focus, my meals were high in carb, low in fat and moderate to low in protein.  Eventually, someone got through to me and introduced me to The Zone way of eating. While I don’t necessarily subscribe to ‘having a name’ for how you eat… The Zone is a terrific way to learn the necessity and value of eating with balance. For me, eating fats and the importance of protein were the big lessons. For many, The Zone also does a great job of teaching portion control. Yep, it’s true, most of us don’t need to eat the amount we take in.  My husband and I are not the same size– so there is no reason for me to eat the same size sweet potato or piece of chicken. If I’m not aware of this fact and go on the fact that it tastes amazing… it is highly likely I will finish what is on the plate (and maybe have more) rather than stop eating when full.  So yes, I believe The Zone is the bomb for learning how to eat well.

Next stop on my nutritional journey was the choice to drop gluten and dairy. This was not easy, however, as I tell anyone who asks, feeling great is important to me. Feeling great, having energy and a clear head is more important to me than any muffin, scone or cheesy delight.  Occasionally, I will indulge and accept the gastro issues to follow. I endorse an occasional ‘cheat’ to (A) Remind me why I eat clean, and (B) not be rude to those who invited me to dinner and are serving lasagna.

Now that I eat balanced and avoid the things that make me feel yucky… what is the next step to maintaining health and wellness? I’m continually in awe of the human body and how utterly brilliant it is!  The next step is actually listening to your body!  Early on, most people need to focus on WHAT to eat and that is enough to avoid mental overload.  To effect change, most people will prep their food and have a plan… they follow the plan and results come. YAY!  Once healthier habits are established the tweaking begins… and here is where I suggest the next step…LISTENING to your body.  Ever have a day when a salad sounds SO GOOD? Or all you can think about is a burger! Or maybe it’s time for lunch and you’re just not hungry. Or maybe you ate your lunch and you are still hungry (actually hungry, not snacky).  If you listen to your body… it will talk to you and tell you what you need (or don’t need).  Having a food plan is good, but be willing to adjust. For example, one day I may be more active with heavier lifts and multiple classes so having extra calories is needed. But the next day may be a rest day, I’m not doing as much and don’t need to eat the same things or amounts I ate the day before. Seems like a “DUH!” statement… but this is something I discuss at least once a week with someone.  If you travel for work and find yourself sitting on a plane, then in a car followed by a long meeting—eat accordingly.  Maybe even use this as an opportunity to a tiny fast…

Fast!??? Yes. Fast. Welcome to the newest part of my journey. THIS is a slippery slope. Fasting to give your digestive system a break is a good thing and can change body composition and energy levels. Fasting is not intended to be prolonged and thus a method to control body composition. I’m very careful how I discuss fasting. This next comment is my opinion–meaning you can disagree and that’s fine with me. This opinion is based on observation — I am not a doc or scientist — I am a reader, watcher and listener.  OK, enough disclaimers…

It’s my opinion that “cleansing” (which is quite trendy these days) is another word for “fasting” and like fasting, if not done in a healthy manner, it becomes a method to feed body image issues.  That was a long (and politically correct) way to say that I feel, SOMETIMES, the whole cleansing/fasting thing can become it’s own version of an eating disorder. Eat like sh*t then cleanse! Or… binge then cleanse.  Please do not confuse this with coming back from an Oktoberfest vacation of beer and pretzels with the desire (and need) to cleanse/fast to reset your body… this instance is filed under “Enjoyed a cheat and hit the reset button”.  I’m talking about day in and day out making the choice to eat like sh*t then starve yourself and somehow convince yourself this is healthy.

One of my all time favorite blogs to read is by Mark Sisson. Mark’s Daily Apple never disappoints. Read about him https://www.marksdailyapple.com/mark-sisson/ he’s a stud and a smart one! He’s traveled the path and lived the journey to optimal health. Here is a little gem where Mark discusses the benefits of fasting AND the value of timing your food intake. If you’re already eating smart and want to get off a plateau… poke around his blog… lots of good info! And take time to read…http://bit.ly/2xB4WjG

 

Written by: Sheryl Hammontree